Buen Vivir (good life) in Ecuador has problems, what it reveals about the government

Posted on July 19, 2016 • Filed under: Ecuador, Social Issues

theconversation.com/Philipp Horn – Ecuador is known for promoting the ‘Buen Vivir’ development policy agenda. But the state’s response to a recent earthquake brought its commitment into question.

So it went after Ecuador’s recent earthquake, which not only represents the largest humanitarian but also the most significant housing crisis for the country since decades. More than 600 people died, thousands of people were injured and left homeless with their houses and surrounding infrastructure destroyed.

The earthquake uncovered some of the tensions between the government’s official ideas about development and its actual practices, which often ignore constitutional rights. It also revealed that while the government allegedly intends to cut ties with supposed ideological enemies such as the IMF, it’s actually working to renew partnerships with the very same institutions.

Ecuador is renowned for its inclusive and participatory development model, which is known as “Buen Vivir” (the good life). In a nutshell, Buen Vivir means that no one should live well if others live poorly and that humans and nature should coexist in harmony. It is enshrined in Ecuador’s 2008 Constitution, which also outlines a vast array of political, economic, social and cultural rights.

These include collective indigenous rights, the right to nature and the right to the city. The latter is the guideline for Ecuador’s sustainable and socially just urban development vision, according to which all urban residents are entitled to the full enjoyment of the city and its public spaces.

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Citizens are meant to be directly involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of urban policy interventions. These should go beyond a singular focus on housing and infrastructure provisioning. Instead, urban policies ought to address diverse cultural, social, economic and political interests of citizens, including those who have been historically marginalised such as the poor, women, children, people with disabilities, or ethnic minorities.

All well and good on paper, then – but in practice, things look rather different. Read Article

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